If you are anything like me you will likely consume more information in a week that you will remember for the entire year. Email is a good example of this. Every couple of weeks I clean out my inbox and delete the newsletters or blog posts that I said I was going to take a closer look at. Unfortunately a week later those emails are replaced with new ones without me ever having a chance to read more into the ones I previously saved.
Welcome to the information age! In the past, information was hard to come by. We went to libraries or paid to receive journals in order to stay up to date. Then came an abundance of information, much of which was marketing material that may or may not fit the definition of “good” information. Now there is no shortage of good information available and the question has become “how to deal with it” instead of “where to find it”.
This being early into the new year (and in case some of you are still looking for doable New Year’s resolutions), here are a few ideas that may help you get a handle on the information you come across:
1. Take full advantage of your web browser – I use Google Chrome as my web browser. The first time I opened it I signed in with my google account. I save bookmarks in Chrome similar to how you would save bookmarks in any browser. The difference is that now I can sign in to any computer with Google Chrome installed and access all of my bookmarks. If you have multiple computers you will find this feature very useful. For example, if I am on my desktop and save a bookmark, it is immediately available on my laptop when I open it up. Similar features are also available with Firefox and I imagine that Internet Explorer has something for this as well.
2. Use social bookmarking – The problem I have with using a web browser is that I bookmark everything, then can’t remember what I bookmarked or where I saved it. Because of this I started using social bookmarking tools such as delicious.com or diigo.com. These tools usually provide browser extensions that you can add to your web browser. When you find information you want to save; click the extension, name it, tag it with something you will remember it by (i.e. AT, UDL, DigitalText, etc…) and save it. You can find it later by date, tag, key word and so on… What I really like is that I can make any resource public or private. This means I can share my list with others if I choose, which is great for conferences or collaboration. For example, any time a colleague and I work on an eLearning project, we simply dump all of the resources we find into one of these sites and share with each other.
3. Consider Evernote – Evernote has changed the way I work. I rarely use other word processing applications such as Word or Pages anymore. I am actually typing this blog post in Evernote now and will copy and paste it into WordPress when finished. Evernote is a web based note taking system that does more than I can mention in a single post. Similar to the social bookmarking sites mentioned above, I have put an Evernote browser extension in my web browser. Now when I find an article I like, I click the link and it adds it to my Evernote account. I have a desktop version of Evernote in addition to an iPad and iPhone app. Plus I can access my account any time at Evernote.com. The program has excellent search features so I never have a hard time finding what I’ve saved.
Finally, you may also want to consider reviewing a post on Content Curation by Beth Kanter. She lists ideas for coming up with a strategy to help sort through tons of information, decide what is most useful, and share that information with others.
Hopefully you find one or all of the tools mentioned in this post useful. What other resources do you use?